Can viruses do good things?

Can viruses be beneficial? Did they aid the development of life on this planet? Can they be used in treating cancer? Can they protect plants against drought and cold temperatures? Can they protect against infection? Are they, in fact, essential for life on Earth? See the background and the research … Background: *Nuwer, R. (2020). Why the world needs viruses to function. BBC Future. *Quammen,…

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Online extremism: the dangers and the psychology

Online extremism–through social media and other channels–is real and is very dangerous. The events of January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere in the United States show that plainly. We must all be better, more critical users of social media–if you choose to use social media. The overriding motivation of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, and other platforms is to drive user traffic to make…

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Bacteriophages: basic science and applications

“We urgently need an alternative method to fight bacterial infection. One promising method for killing bacteria is to use bacteriophages: viruses that infect and kill bacteria … As a type of virus, phages cannot live and reproduce alone. Viruses need to invade a host cell, consume the host’s nutrients to make more copies of themselves, and lastly get out of the host cell – often by…

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Extreme weather and climate change: the connections and impacts

Is there a connection between extreme weather events (rain, cold, heat, droughts, hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, and more) and climate change? Yes. Are extreme weather events becoming stronger and happening more frequently? Yes. Are these extreme weather events having a greater impact–economic losses, human migration, loss of plant and animal species and even extinction, worsening human health, and more. Yes, again. See the research … Quick…

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How and why does false information spread online?

How does false information/”fake news” spread through social media and web sites? And, why does it? We are told–frequently–by legitimate, trusted sources and the very people and organizations who create disinformation that a significant proportion of what we view is fake and has been deliberately created to sow discord and distrust, to make us not believe and to tear us apart. So, do we trust…

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Corruption and power: the connection

Was Lord Acton right? “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Or, is it more as John Steinbeck described “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power”? Is there a connection between having power (in politics, government, business, etc.) and becoming or being corrupt? There seem to be examples all around us and, yet, we also see…

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